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Canadian concert pianist Stewart Goodyear has been appointed the Royal Conservatory of Music’s first ever artist in residence.STUART LOWE/RCM

The Canadian concert pianist Stewart Goodyear has upcoming concerts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Nov. 5 and 6) and in Toronto, where, on Nov. 27 at Koerner Hall, he’ll perform the world premiere of his new Piano Quintet with the Penderecki String Quartet.

Goodyear would do well to make himself comfortable at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s concert venue, Koerner Hall. The 43-year-old pianist and composer has just been appointed the conservatory’s first ever artist in residence. In addition to annual performances at Koerner over the course of his three-year term, Goodyear will conduct master classes, deliver content for the school’s certificate program and be involved in the newly renamed Oscar Peterson School of Music.

He spoke to The Globe about the his new title, his new album and the value of piano competitions.

With this appointment, will you be performing less often?

The position will not cut into my concert calendar. The difference is that I’ll be a teacher, composer and performer at the same time, as opposed to them having different lives.

The title of your new album is Phoenix. Could you assure our readers that you’re not rising from any ashes of your own?

Everything is fine with me [laughs]. All of the composers featured on the album have been inspired by the ashes of Franz Liszt. Franz Liszt, of course, being one the grandfathers of modern pianism.

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is a big part of the album. What’s your relationship with that suite?

I was introduced to it as a youngster. I saw a concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra when I was 5 or 6. They were playing Ravel’s orchestration. I had no idea it was a piano work until a few years later. I learned it when I was a teenager, but finally brought my interpretation publicly a few years ago. It’s a piece I always wanted to record, as well as other pieces on the album, including Jennifer Higdon’s Secret and Glass Gardens, Anthony Davis’s Middle Passage, as well as two Debussy works and two of mine. They are all inspired by Liszt. Directly or indirectly, the pieces are all from the ashes of that legacy.

The big news in the classical piano world these days is Bruce Liu becoming the first Canadian to win the Chopin competition in Warsaw. What’s your history with competitions?

I competed from age 9 to age 12. I won the Canadian Music Competition in 1989. It gave me the opportunity to work with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, which was televised. Through the victory, a lot of orchestras heard of me, which allowed me to perform with various conductors and various orchestras. It was a wonderful experience. I have only fond memories.

But you stopped competing at age 12. Why?

I stopped because I wanted to perform complete works, rather than a movement of a concerto. It was fine, but it just felt like it was a little chunk of the whole picture.

Liu performed a full concerto at the Chopin competition. Afterward he said the best part of winning was that he’d never have to compete again.

There are different opinions about competitions. Glenn Gould thought performing for audiences was a blood sport. I think it comes down to personal experience and personal reactions to competing or to performing. It’s about temperament.

Goodyear's new position will not cut into his concert calendar, saying that instead he will 'be a teacher, composer and performer at the same time.'STUART LOWE/RCM

Bartók said competitions were for horses not artists. You disagree?

Bartók personally did not believe in competitions. He was a formidable pianist. So was Wilhelm Backhaus, the winner of the Anton Rubinstein Competition when Bartók competed. I wish more people would listen to Bartók’s pianism. It was incredibly unique, and probably more unique than the jurors had ever heard. But I wouldn’t knock competitions. It’s an inspiring and intriguing part of the music industry.

Will you be prepping students at the conservatory for competitions?

If a student wants to compete, that’s how they will be prepared. If they want to go on a different path, it will be up to each student.

In terms of the goals and aspirations of students, will you pass on your own success as an example of what can be achieved?

I hope to. But there are more dreams for me that will be realized. The more I grow older, the more possibilities there are, and therefore more dreams are in my head. The beauty of what we do is that there’s never a pinnacle. You’re always climbing. Hopefully we’ll all just keep going.

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